Etihad Airways, in collaboration with information technology company SITA, will test facial biometric services intended to authenticate cabin crew and complete their check-in procedures via personal smartphones.

The national airline of the United Arab Emirates initiated a trial to use facial biometric services for cabin crew check-in process on November 24, 2020. New technology will authenticate crew members and allow them to complete mandatory pre-flight safety and security questions digitally. The trial will continue until February 2021.

“Etihad is constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions and new technologies that will drive improvements in the airline’s operations and enhance the experience for guests and employees,” stated Vice President of Flight Operations at Etihad Captain Sulaiman Yaqoobi.

As part of the airline's digitalization strategy, the idea to transform current kiosk-based check-in procedures came up in order to modernize and maximize operational efficiency.

Additionally, such innovative implementation is expected to contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19, as the airline’s cabin crew would carry out contactless check-in procedures.

“By integrating contactless technology, biometric services will increase efficiency while simultaneously cementing our commitment to reducing the spread of COVID-19 by limiting physical touch points and maximizing social distancing measures,” Yaqoobi explained.

Etihad Airways sees the potential to implement facial recognition technology for future passenger operations, such as check-in and boarding. Therefore, the first trial is expected to provide invaluable data to further research.